Whetstone Stray Allotments Newsletter June 2018
Summer’s nearly here and it’s great to show off our plots to friends and family but if you are entertaining but please consider your neighbours. Make sure your guests stay on your plot and keep an eye on children who will be very tempted to explore further. Keep dogs on leads, no amplified music please and no ball games – Swan Lane park has plenty of room for those. Barbecues are fine – just keep them under control so they aren’t mistaken for bonfires.
Best done early or late to avoid evaporation and the scorching of leaves from sunlight magnified by water drops, but most of us just have to do it when we can. Water the base of the plant not the foliage (which will attract slugs), use a can with a rose or a very gentle spray on seedlings and young plants. Please don’t hog the tap when others are waiting to use it, and be aware that using a hose higher up a field greatly reduces the pressure for those watering further down. Don’t leave a hose running if you are not holding it – it’s too easy forget about it. If you find a hose attachment on a tap please leave it there (and consider keeping a spare well-hidden on your plot).
Thank you to everyone who donated or bought cakes and plants at the Plant Sale, which raised £140 for the Community Plot.
Do you have any unwanted water-based satin indoor, or outdoor paint? The Community Plot would really appreciate it for our sign-making project – bright and cheerful colours are especially welcome. Just drop it off inside the Community Plot gate or at the Trading Hut on Sundays 10.30-11.30am.
Thank you to Sylvie and David who have volunteered again this year to water the Community Plot polytunnel – more watering volunteers would be very welcome.
Holden Road Field and Field 1 Toilet
Sadly, the composting toilet at the top of Field 1 is only available for users of the Community Plot and for communal events because no one has agreed to take responsibility for cleaning and emptying it yet. If you would like to use it, and are happy to do this, please sign up here: How to Volunteer.
On Saturday 30 June from 10.30am we are going to busy – tidying up the lean-to shed and tin hut and digging a soakaway for the sink in the Trading Hut and, perhaps, building some simple seating. Who knows what we will discover? Come and help maintain our communal areas, meet fellow your plotholders and share lunch.
The shop is open from 10.30-11.30 on Sundays, cash only please. Only half the allotments in Barnet have shops because of a lack of volunteers – sign up to help staff ours here: How to Volunteer.
In Summer, bonfires are only allowed on the first Wednesday of the month after 4pm – so Wednesday 6 June this month.
Save the Date
Sunday 22 July
Summer Picnic in the Communal Orchard on Field 2.
Come and admire the results of the pruning done under Aidan’s excellent instruction back in February.
Our Annual Show will be on Sunday 2 September. To join the planning group please sign up here: How to Volunteer.
Please remember that at the AGM in November there was a vote for quiet Sundays – so no power tools after noon, please. Plotholder and local resident, Mick, told us: ‘Thank you for introducing the quiet Sunday afternoon rule and to plot holders for complying with it. It made a noticeable difference in our back garden – we can now hear birdsong rather than the sound of strimmers! Lovely!’
June is one of the busiest months of the vegetable gardener’s year. Warmer weather and longer daylight hours make it the time to plant out any seedlings you have been raising – just make sure you protect them from slugs.
Like all plants, weeds put on a growth spurt in June taking up much-needed water and nutrition from your crops – so keep on top of them.
Mulch to suppress weeds and keep moisture from evaporating form the soil.
Net brassicas to prevent butterflies from laying their eggs and soft fruits to protect them from birds.
Carrot fly will become active as the weather warms up but cannot fly above two feet, so surround your carrots with mesh of that height.
Earth up potatoes so they don’t turn green die to exposure to the light.
Feed asparagus and leave the ferns to turn brown.
Build supports for beans and peas.
Feed tomatoes as soon as the flowers set and the tiny fruit appear (see recipe below).
Comfrey Tea Fertiliser
Comfrey tea is a free, organic and very smelly fertiliser which is rich in potassium and nitrogen. You will see lots of comfrey around the site at this time of year – if you don’t have any, ask your neighbours. Comfrey is very invasive, so if you are planning on planting it choose the variety Bocking 14, which is sterile so won’t self-seed.
Harvest comfrey leaves from established plants – wear gloves as they can irritate the skin. Fill a bucket about half to three-quarters full of comfrey leaves and place a brick on top of the leaves to press them down. Fill the container with water and cover to keep the flies out (and the smell in). The water will turn dark and very smelly in about 20 days. Dilute it by at least 50% percent before using. Comfrey tea is potent so a little goes a long way.
Wilted comfrey leaves can also be used as sheet-mulch manure. Place two or three layers around the base of plants or bury them in the soil 5 cms deep next to crops including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, currants, gooseberries, and fruit trees; the high nitrogen and potassium content of the leaves will be almost immediately available to crops. Don’t use on leafy crops such as lettuce and spinach – the nitrogen boost may cause them to go to seed prematurely – or on rooting crops, such as carrots.
Elderflowers are everywhere at this time of year, with their large, flat white flowers and delicious perfume on self-sown trees.
The fresh flowers make a delicious cordial. They are best gathered just as the many tiny buds are beginning to open, and some are still closed. Gather on a warm, dry day (never when wet), checking the perfume is fresh . (Elders are trees –don’t mistakenly use the flowers of cow parsley, or hemlock, which is deadly poisonous and smells of mouse.)
About 25 elderflower heads
3 unwaxed lemons sliced plus their juice
Shake the elderflower heads gently and remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl or saucepan with the lemons and water. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.Add the sugar and stir, leave until it is dissolved. Strain the syrup and using a funnel pour the syrup into sterilised bottles and seal with sterilised screw-tops.
Drink diluted with water (or prosecco), add a splash or two, undiluted, to gooseberries or dilute one part cordial to two parts water for fragrant ice lollies.